America First

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The slogan America First was not first used by Donald J Trump but by President Woodrow Wilson, and also by Warren G. Harding during the 1920 US Presidential elections.

On September 4th 1940 R. Douglas Stuart Jr., who was a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, founded the America First Committee. It would become the foremost United States  pressure group ensuring the US’s neutrality and against the American entry into World War II.

Its spokes person was Charles Lindbergh.

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President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to intervene to help the British in the fight against Germany, but Lindbergh championed the isolationist cause.

Although Lindbergh was unashamedly pro-German and an anti-Semite, historians agree that he wasn’t Pro Nazi.

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Two future US Presidents, John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford initially supported the AFC.

At the outbreak of the war in Europe ,the America First Committee started  a petition with the goal to enforce the 1939 Neutrality Act and reminding and forcing President Franklin D. Roosevelt to maintain his pledge to keep America out of the war. The AFC had very little trust in Roosevelt and argued that he was untrue to the American people.

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Although the AFC was reasonably popular and had the backing of several wealthy business men, there were also some who were very cynical about the AFC movement.

Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr Seuss was a political cartoonist for the New York tabloid PM at the time. In early October 1941 he drew a series of  cartoons criticizing the nation of America First.

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December 7,1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor which drew the USA into the war therefore heralding the end of the America First Committee. Three days later after the attack on December 10,1941, the AFC was dissolved.

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Sources

BBC

Library of National Congress.

 

The Bombing of Campile,Co.Wexford-Ireland.

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Ireland remained officially neutral during World War II. However, on 26 August 1940, the German Luftwaffe bombed Campile in broad daylight.

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On August 26 1940 the tiny village of Campile in Co Wexford was bombed by the German Luftwaffe, killing three local women and giving Ireland — until then largely insulated from the terror of World War Two — its first experience of the conflict.

 

Sisters Mary Ellen (30) and Kitty Kent (26) and restaurant worker Kathleen Hurley (27) all perished after the Heinkel bomber dropped four bombs over the Shelburne Co-op and Creamery, demolishing it in a matter of seconds.

Mary Ellen and Kitty were the daughters of Michael and Ellen Kent from Terrerath. Mary Ellen worked as the manageress in the restaurant, while Kitty worked in the drapery. In a cruel twist of fate Kitty had been delayed in going to her dinner that fateful day and would otherwise not have been in the restaurant when the bombs were dropped. Kathleen Hurley, the daughter of William and Catherine Hurley, also worked in the restaurant and had just returned that morning after two weeks’ of summer holidays.

 

 

 

Four German bombs were dropped on the creamery and restaurant sections of Shelburne Co-op on that day. The railway was also targeted by the bombers. The attack has never been fully explained, although there are numerous theories as to why the bombing occurred.

 

One was that the German pilots were lost and had mistaken the south-east coast of Wexford for Wales.

It was also suggested that butter boxes emblazoned with the Shelburne Co-op name were discovered by the Nazis a few months earlier following the evacuation of Dunkirk and that the bombing was in retaliation for supplying foodstuffs to the Allied armies.

However, Campile historian John Flynn, who has written a new book to mark the 70th anniversary of the disaster, argues that the bombing was a message from Hitler to Taoiseach Eamon de Valera warning him to keep his promise on Ireland’s neutrality.

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After consulting military reports, Mr Flynn said it was clear that Campile was a “definite target” that fateful day.

One theory that has always been battered about is that the co-op was supplying butter to the Allies armies when we were supposed to be neutral.

it was also alleged that the Co-op sold boots to the British Army and these were found by the Germans. Another theory is the RAF were able to put the German bombers, which were targeted by a radar beam, off course and that they were totally reliant on crew judgement in the case of the bombing of Campile.

The 20-minute ordeal terrorised the peaceful village and left behind a trail of devastation, with huge gates ripped off their hinges, slates torn off roofs, railway siding was twisted and sleepers were pulled up.

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On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the bombing, a plaque was erected on the co-op walls in memory of the three women that died during the attack.

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One thing that always puzzled me is why did de Valera  formally offer his condolences to the German Minister in Dublin on the death of Adolf Hitler in 1945 ?

Under Hitler’s leadership several dozens of Irish citizens were killed, for Campile wasn’t the only town that was bombed. I know under the guise of the neutrality diplomatic protocol, he may have felt compelled to do so.

But neutrality means  2 things “the state of not supporting or helping either side in a conflict, disagreement, etc.; impartiality.” and “absence of decided views, expression, or strong feeling.”

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Forgotten History-Liechtenstein during WWII.

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Most people outside of Europe probably won’t even know this tiny nation exists,and even some Europeans will never have heard of this small Alpine country with a population of 37,000(only about 11,000 during WWII)

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Like it’s bigger neighbor,Switzerland, Liechtenstein stayed neutral during WWII. But like the other neutral nations, the neutrality was relative and open to interpretation.

Liechtenstein, previously closely tied to Austria-Hungary, grew close to Switzerland after WW1. In 1919, Liechtenstein entrusted its diplomacy to Switzerland.In the spring of 1938, just after the annexation of Austria into Greater Germany, eighty-four-year-old Prince Franz I abdicated and was succeeded by his thirty-one-year-old grand nephew, Prince Franz Joseph II.

 

While Prince Franz I claimed that old age was his reason for abdicating, it is believed that he had no desire to be on the throne if Germany gobbled up its new neighbour, Liechtenstein. His wife, Elisabeth von Gutmanwhom he married in 1929, was a wealthy Jewish woman from Vienna, and local Liechtenstein Nazis had already singled her out as their anti-Semitic “problem”.

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A Nazi sympathy movement had been simmering for years within its National Union party and there was a national socialist political party – the German National Movement in Liechtenstein.

The German National Movement in Liechtenstein (German: Volksdeutsche Bewegung in Liechtenstein, VDBL) was a National Socialist party in Liechtenstein that existed between 1938 and 1945.The VDBL formed after the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, and advocated for the integration of Liechtenstein into the Greater German Reich.

The organization disseminated its ideology through its newspaper, Der Umbruch.

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A slogan associated with the party was Liechtenstein den Liechtensteinern! (Liechtenstein for the Liechtensteiners!). This implied a radical populism that would threaten the allegiance of the people of Liechtenstein to ruling Prince Franz Josef II.

In March 1939, the VDBL staged an amateurish coup attempt, first trying to provoke a German intervention by burning swastikas, followed by declaring an Anschluß with Germany. The leaders were almost immediately arrested and the hoped-for German invasion failed to materialise.

The inability of the party to participate in the 1939 elections (after a pact between the main parties to keep the election date a secret), combined with the drastic decrease in Nazi sympathies following the outbreak of World War II led to a temporary demise of the party. However, in June 1940 it was reconstituted under the leadership of Dr. Alfons Goop.

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During 1941 and 1942, the party was involved in vehement anti-Semitic agitation, urging a solution to the country’s presumed “Jewish Question”, accusing Jewish families in Liechtenstein of spying for the Allies. By early 1943, the VDBL had become an embarrassment to Germany: its recruitment for the Waffen-SS compromised Liechtenstein’s neutrality, disquieting the Swiss. The German ministry of foreign affairs in March 1943 forced the VDBL to hold talks with the Patriotic Union(a Christian democratic political party in Liechtenstein)in Friedrichshafen under auspices of the Waffen-SS, in order to reach a fusion of both parties, which shared an anti-Bolshevik and anti-clerical programme. Severely disappointed, Goop resigned as party leader. In the end the PU only consented to some “cultural cooperation”. When Germany’s war fortunes declined, in July 1943 Der Umbruch was forbidden by the authorities. In 1946, party leaders were prosecuted for the 1939 coup attempt. Goop was in 1947 condemned for high treason, to an imprisonment of thirty months

In May 1945, at the end of the European War, German collaborator Boris Smyslowsky escaped into the country with 461 surviving men of the German 1st Russian National Army (along with 30 women and 2 children).

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Some of them would later return to the Soviet Union (and disappear into the Soviet prison system), others received asylum from Argentina, while a small number, including Smyslowsky, remained in Liechtenstein for the rest of their lives. In addition of these 493 Russians, the country also took in about 240 Jewish refugees from other European nations; 144 of them were given citizenship to ease their transition to other countries. In the same period, however, Liechtenstein also rejected entry of several hundred other Jewish refugees. It was noted that the Jews Liechtenstein accepted were generally wealthy or influential

In addition, the principality allowed 144 Jews to become citizens “in return for high fees” during the Nazi era. Most of those new citizens (German: Neubürger) never lived in Liechtenstein but chose another country. The fact of being a Liechtensteiner made it easier for them to establish themselves in a Western country.

However, an unknown number were turned back. Between 1938 and 1939 at least 132 applications for entry visas were refused.

Even though it was sandwiched between neutral Switzerland and Nazi-controlled Austria, Liechtenstein still had some room to manoeuvre. Liechtenstein accepted mainly rich Jews, who were expected to spend their money in the country or who created jobs by establishing companies in the principality. Like most other Western and overseas countries, Liechtenstein tightened its immigration laws in 1938. Liechtenstein’s policy can therefore be compared to that of other countries.

The family of Liechtenstein’s Prince Franz Josef II bought property and art objects taken from Jews in Austria and Czechoslovakia and rented Jewish inmates from a  concentration camp near Vienna(more then likely Mauthausen)  for forced labour on nearby royal estates.

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Forgotten History-The Swiss Airforce during WWII.

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Although Switzerland remained neutral throughout World War II, it had to deal with numerous violations of its airspace by combatants from both sides – initially by German aircraft, especially during their invasion of France in 1940. Zealous Swiss pilots attacked and shot down eleven German aircraft, losing two of their own, before a threatening memorandum from the German leadership forced General Guisan to forbid air combat above Swiss territory.

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Later in the war, the Allied bomber offensive sometimes took US or British bombers into Swiss airspace, either damaged craft seeking safe haven or even on occasions bombing Swiss cities by accident.

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Swiss aircraft would attempt to intercept individual aircraft and force them to land, interning the crews. Only one further Swiss pilot was killed during the war, shot down by a US fighter in September 1944. From September red and white neutrality bands were added to the wings of aircraft to stop accidental attacks on Swiss aircraft by Allied aircraft.

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From 1943 Switzerland shot down American and British aircraft, mainly bombers, overflying Switzerland during World War II: six by Swiss air force fighters and nine by flak cannons, and 36 airmen were killed. On 1 October 1943 the first American bomber was shot near Bad Ragaz: Only three men survived.

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The officers were interned in Davos, airmen in Adelboden. The representative of the U.S. military in Bern, U.S. military attaché Barnwell R. Legge, instructed the soldiers not to flee so as to allow the U.S. Legation to coordinate their escape attempts, but the majority of the soldiers thought it was a diplomatic ruse or did not receive the instruction directly.

On 1 October 1944 Switzerland housed 39,670 internees in all: 20,650 from Italy, 10,082 from Poland, 2,643 from the United States, 1,121 from the United Kingdom (including five Australians), 822 from the Soviet Union and 245 from France. In September the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was commissioned by the U.S. supreme command to organize the escapes of 1,000 American internees, but the task was not effectively accomplished before late winter 1944/45.

 

Soldiers who were caught after their escape from the internment camp, were often detained in the Wauwilermoos internment camp near Luzern.

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Official Swiss records identify 6,501 airspace violations during the course of the war, with 198 foreign aircraft landing on Swiss territory and 56 aircraft crashing there.

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